You Can't Help Who You Fall in Love With

Chapter 1: Bleeding Love

"Closed off from love

I didn't need the pain

Once or twice was enough

And it was all in vain

Time starts to pass

Before you know it you're frozen"

"I, uh… heard you had a date the other night," Mac cautiously brings the topic up.

"Where did you hear that?"

"Flack and Danny were talking about it when I walked into the room. They said he was a fireman I believe."

Stella looks at the ground, "He's just a friend. And he asked me to go out for a drink with him."

"So you won't be seeing him again?"

"He was just flirting with me about the baseball game. If he asks to go out for drinks again, I might go. But it's like you and me going out… we're just friends."

"Does he know that?"

"What's with all the questions?" she frowns at him.

"I… just don't want you to end up in another bad relationship."

"He's clean, Mac. I did a background check. But I still have no interest in him."

"Knowing you you also did a background check on Frankie. And you did one on Drew. And both of them turned out to be…"


He nods slowly. "I…"

"Mac, maybe you shouldn't believe all the rumors you hear. I'll tell you when I'm dating again. And if you insist, I'll even let you meet him."

"If you think he's okay, then I believe you. Go home; you've spent enough time here," he gently urges.

"Good night, Mac." Before heading out the door, she turns back to him. "You know there's only one man I could ever love."

By the time he looks up from his paperwork to ask she is gone.

"But something happened

For the very first time with you

My heart melts into the ground

Found something true

And everyone's looking round

Thinking I'm going crazy"

"So… how is your case going?" she asks, seating herself on top of his desk directly in front of him.

"Okay. Yours?" he stands, uncomfortable with her so close.

"Almost done. We're just waiting for Adam to finish with the DNA to confirm our suspect's confession."

"What did you come in here for?"

"Can't I just come visit you?"

He frowns at her, "No."

"Now that you brought it up… can we trade shifts Friday?" she tries to act innocent.

"You have plans?"

"Brendon asked me to go to some dinner thing with him… I told him I'd see if I could switch shifts so I could go."

"And Brendon is…?" his frown deepens in thought.

"The firefighter," she helps him out.

"The one you're not dating?"


"What is this dinner for?"

She shrugs, "I think it's their annual Christmas party… which reminds me ours is in a few weeks. Did you find yourself a date this year?" For the past few years, his bosses always teased him about not bringing a date.

He shakes his head.

"I don't have a date yet either."

"You're not asking Brendon?"

"We're not dating."

"I get the feeling he doesn't know this…"

"What, he can't ask me to do things with him as friends?"

"I guess I can switch shifts."

"Thanks, Mac," she slides off the desk and kisses his cheek before leaving.

"But I don't care what they say

I'm in love with you

They try to pull me away

But they don't know the truth

My heart's crippled by the vein

That I keep on closing

You cut me open and I"

"I heard you guys had a pretty bad case today," Brendon says as they dance.

"Yeah… this mother couldn't deal with her kids anymore so she burnt the house down with them inside it, planning to use the insurance money to start a new life."

"Where was the father?"

"They were divorced. She had custody of them… but you know how that situation is. She didn't really want them but didn't want him to have them."

"I haven't heard you talk about Mac lately…"

Stella sighs, "He's still clueless."

"If he doesn't notice you, maybe you should just give up and find someone new."

"Oh, he notices me… just not in that way."

"Stel, you deserve someone who treats you right. He doesn't even realize that you like him."

"He can be so oblivious at times… Maybe we are better off as just friends."

"You look beautiful tonight," Brendon compliments.

She frowns at him, "What makes you think you stand a chance if I give up on Mac?"

"Because I know you're guarded… and it takes time for you to let someone in. And you've obviously let me in or we wouldn't be doing this right now."

"We're dancing… that's not much."

"Maybe you just need to make him jealous," he suggests.

"No, if he's sees me with another guy, he'll just think I'm happy and don't like him. Besides, he already thinks we're dating, and he doesn't seem to be jealous."

"Maybe he doesn't think he has any competition."

"Look, give me until our Christmas party to keep trying. If it doesn't work, then maybe I'll give you a chance."

"Keep bleeding

Keep, keep bleeding love

I keep bleeding

I keep, keep bleeding love

Keep bleeding

Keep, keep bleeding love

You cut me open"

"How'd your not date go?" Mac asks as he meets up with her in the hall the next morning.

"Fine. How was work?"

"Uneventful. Apparently people found something better to do on a Friday night than kill each other."

She smiles, "So what do we have today?"

"Danny and Lindsay have a body found just outside the park, Sheldon is off, and you and I are going to are going to the theater." She gives him a curious look. "Apparently someone didn't like the show last night and killed the leading actress."

"Maybe her understudy thought she could do a better job."

"Stel," he puts a hand on her arm to stop her, "I need to talk to you. I was wondering if you… maybe would want… if you could pretend to be… my date for the Christmas party. I mean… I'm still not comfortable dating and it'd just… be friends… If you aren't taking Brendon…"

"Yeah, I'll go with you. It's not a problem. I understand," she accepts, hoping this will help her find out if he likes her as more than just a friend.

"Thank you, Stella. I'll meet you at my car in five minutes, okay?"

"Yeah," she starts to walk off, looking over her shoulder at him and smiling. She runs straight into a door.

"Trying hard not to hear

But they talk so loud

Their piercing sounds fill my ears

Try to fill me with doubt

Yet I know that the goal

Is to keep me from falling"

"How's your head?"

"It still hurts," she turns to look at him.

"I'm sorry I distracted you," Mac gently rests his hands on her head to study the bruise that is forming.

She hopes he doesn't notice her reddened cheeks. "It's my fault. I should have been paying attention to where I was going."

"Your fireman will probably think I hit you or something."

"No, he's working today so he'll probably be sleeping most of tomorrow, and I won't see him. Besides, why would he care?"

"Because his girlfriend has a big bruise on her forehead and he'll want to know what man did this to her."

"He's not my boyfriend, Mac. How many times do I have to tell you?"

"Well, if he's your friend, he'll still ask how it got there. I would be angry at the person who did that to you."

"He'll understand." Stella turns back to her evidence.

"You can go around telling everyone I hit you with a door because you weren't doing your work. Maybe that'll frighten them into doing more work instead of gossiping."

"No, it wouldn't. They know you'd never hurt me, Mac. At least not on purpose."

"Are you sure you don't want to go home and rest? Or put some ice on it?"

"I'm okay. Besides, the case is just starting to get exciting."

He looks curiously at her, "What did you find?"

"But nothing's greater than the risk that comes with your embrace

And in this world of loneliness

I see your face

Yet everyone around me

Thinks that I'm going crazy

Maybe, maybe"

"Hey, Stel, I was just going to grab something to – What the hell happened to you?" Lindsay gasps.

"I ran into a door. Mac's fault, or that's what he wants me to tell everyone. He said that I wasn't working hard enough so he hit me with the door," she smirks.

"He didn't really, did he?"

"No, I was walking down the hall and turned my head back to look at him and… wham, right into the door."

"If you don't mind me asking, what's going on with you guys? I saw you… kiss his cheek the other day."

"Why don't we talk about it over lunch?" Stella says, and they get into the elevator.

Once they are seated in the diner, the younger woman starts asking questions. "What happened to the firefighter? Are you and Mac going out?"

"The firefighter and I are just friends… for now. I… I love someone else, but he… doesn't seem to pick up on it I guess."


She hesitates, "Yeah."

"So what's this 'for now' stuff?"

"I… I don't know why but I just opened up to this guy when he asked me to get a drink with him. He knows… about Mac and respects that, but I think he's kind of getting… anxious since nothing is happening with Mac and me. I know he'd… definitely ask me out on a real date if I told him I was over Mac, and he seems like a nice guy and all… of course I thought that about Frankie too so…"

"So why not just go out with this guy? If something goes wrong, you'll still have Mac. And Mac isn't responding to your flirting it seems."

"I told him if nothing happened with Mac before the Christmas party I'd let him… ask me out I guess."

"Then stick to your plan," Lindsay advises. "You and Mac are close, and if you do start something and it doesn't work, you'll lose him. I don't want to see you two lose each other. Just give this firefighter a chance. Besides, if he's a fireman, he can't be that bad looking."

"But I don't care what they say

I'm in love with you

They try to pull me away

But they don't know the truth

My heart's crippled by the vein

That I keep on closing

You cut me open and I"

"Adam got a match in CODIS on the DNA you collected from the victim's clothes. You want to come with me to question him?" Mac approaches her as she and Lindsay get off the elevator.

"Sure. See you later, Lindsay," she gets back on the elevator with Mac.

A few floors down a mother and son get on. "I want to push the button," the boy says, proceeding to push almost every single floor on the panel.

"Joshua, now we're going to stop on every floor before we get to the bottom," she scolds, then turns to Mac and Stella. "I'm sorry if this inconveniences you."

"It's okay," Mac says, sighing.

After about the third stop the elevator makes, the mother says, "Forget it. We're taking the stairs." She and her son exit.

"Twenty-six stops to go," Mac glances at his partner. "Is something wrong?"

Stella looks up at him. "I'm not a big fan of elevators. I know, hard to believe since I've lived in New York my whole life."

"You've never seemed this tense in one before."

"It's the starting and stopping. Normally we only have one or two stops before we get off." She leans back against the wall. "One time my foster mother and sister and I went shopping, and the elevator stopped working in between floors while we were inside of it. They blamed me since I was standing closest to the buttons."

"We can take the stairs if you want."

"No, walking down twenty flights of stairs isn't going to happen."

He slowly comes over to her and takes her hand. She squeezes his hand to say thanks.

"Keep bleeding

Keep, keep bleeding love

I keep bleeding

I keep, keep bleeding love

Keep bleeding

Keep, keep bleeding love

You cut me open"

Brendon puts her drink down in front of her before sitting across from her. "So… I asked you to my Christmas party. Why haven't you asked me to yours yet? I've always wondered if they serve doughnuts since cops are supposed to love them."

"No, they do not," she frowns at him. "And I can't exactly go with two men."

"He asked you?"

"Yes, but only as friends. Just so his boss doesn't make fun of him again for not having a date. And then I ran into the door."

He laughs at her clumsiness, having already teased her about the bruise on her head. "What's the boss going to think when he shows up with his partner?"

"I didn't think about that," Stella takes a sip of her drink. "It's not like we're actually dating anyway. To be honest, I'm not sure if there's even a rule about dating coworkers."

"Didn't you say that two of the other CSIs were going out?"

"Yeah… but they're on the same level. Mac is technically my boss so…"

"You can't date him. Just let me ask you out on a date. With real food, not just drinks."

"Brendon, there's still a week and a half before the Christmas party. And I don't think any of the others really know that much about my personal life or Mac's. So we could probably get away with it… Well, Lindsay knows I like him, but she wouldn't have to know if we started dating."

"And which one of you would get fired if anyone found out about this?"

"Probably Mac… Sinclair wants him gone anyway. Or both of us since Mac and I are best friends."

"Stella, just be careful. You know I'll treat you just as good as he will. But if you'd rather have him…" the firefighter stands up. "Can I get you another drink?"

"No, thanks, I can't have a headache at work tomorrow."

"And it's draining all of me

Oh, they find it hard to believe

I'll be wearing these scars

For everyone to see"

"Mac, what color shirt are you going to wear Saturday to the party?" Stella hands him her completed case file.

"Why does it matter?" he adds it to the pile sitting on his desk.

"If we're going together, we have to match."

"You haven't bought your dress yet?"

"I bought a red one and a green one since I didn't know what you were wearing."

"Well, what if my shirt is dark green and your dress is emerald green?" he asks, not seeing why they had to match.

"Fine, would you rather I wear the green one or the red one?" she shakes her head at him.

"I don't know… green I guess."

"Okay, then you wear a red shirt. Now we have both colors covered."

"Should I wear a green tie too?"

"No, Mac, no tie."

"Stella, it's a formal party. I have too."

"Danny never wears a tie. You don't need to."

"Does Danny have to talk to Sinclair and the commissioner?" he points out.

"Like they really care if you wear a tie to the Christmas party."

He stares at her for a moment. "Stel, why are you making such a big deal out of this? You're just doing me a favor and accompanying me as a friend. It's not a life and death situation if we don't match."

"I guess not," she concedes. "I just kind of miss… having a date and making sure our colors don't clash."

"Start dating again, Stella. You'll find the right guy eventually."

"I already found him," she smiles sadly and leaves his office.

"I don't care what they say

I'm in love with you

They try to pull me away

But they don't know the truth

My heart's crippled by the vein

That I keep on closing

You cut me open and I"

"I don't know. I'm beginning to think he doesn't feel anything."

"He must, Stella. Why'd he ask you to go to the party with him?" Brendon tries to comfort her.

"Because he's comfortable around me, and we're friends. He wasn't going to ask some complete stranger to go with him."

"Maybe when he has you at his arm tomorrow he'll realize how he feels about you. Or maybe you just need to come out with it and find out."

"I've practically said it twice already. How much more obvious can I get? Besides, we may be close, but we're not going to go around with our arms linked tomorrow." Stella looks at her watch. "I've got to be at work at ten. I probably should be going."

He follows her toward the door. "I hope you have a good time tomorrow. I've got to work Sunday so… I'll call you Monday sometime to see how it went."

"Dinner was great, Brendon. Thanks."

Before she can open the door, he puts his hand on it to keep it shut. She looks back at him curiously. He leans in to kiss the corner of her mouth before she can react.


"Sorry," he says quickly. "I… let me know how it goes." He closes the door abruptly behind her before she has a chance to say anything.

Stella waits for the elevator, confused. Brendon definitely wants to be more than friends; Mac… well, who knows what Mac's thinking most of the time?

"Keep bleeding

Keep, keep bleeding love

I keep bleeding

I keep, keep bleeding love

Keep bleeding

Keep, keep bleeding love

You cut me open and I"

"Do you want to dance?" Mac asks quietly. Everyone else had left their table already.

"Okay," she takes his hand and lets him lead her to the dance floor.

By the time they get situated, the song is over, and a slow one begins. Keeping their hands joined, she rests her other one on his shoulder. He cautiously puts his on her waist. There is a large space between them, and it seems to her he is trying to avoid contact with her.

"Mac, is everything alright?"

"Yeah, I… I'm sorry about Sinclair. It never occurred that anyone would think that we were… dating just because I asked you to come with me."

"It's okay, Mac. We're always there for each other. And if we have to, we stand up for each other."

"You're right," he says, his eyes focused on something behind her instead of looking at her.

"Is that why you're a mile away from me?"

"I just don't want anyone else to get the wrong impression about us."

She scoots closer to him, "What happened to the Mac that never cared what anyone else thought about him? It's not like we've never danced together before. And it is just dancing… nothing more."

The song ends, and he guides her back to the table with a hand on her back. "Would you like another drink?"


They spend the next hour at the table, barely talking to each other, Mac getting up only to get them more to drink and Stella getting up when she was asked to dance by other men.

"Mac, do you want to dance or walk around… or talk or… just something?" she finally asks, getting frustrated and bored.

"Not really."

"Keep bleeding

Keep, keep bleeding love

I keep bleeding

I keep, keep bleeding love

Keep bleeding

Keep, keep bleeding love"

"I give up," Stella sighs in frustration. "You just can't see what's right in front of you."

"What are you talking about?" he looks over at her, confused.

"Mac… I love you. And I have for a while. Either you just don't see it, or you don't love me back."

"Stella, if this is your idea of a joke to get me to talk, I don't think it's funny."

"I'm serious, Mac. I'm in love with you."

"How much have you had to drink?"

She shakes her head, "I don't know why I've wasted my time on you."

Mac grabs her arm, "You're taking this too far. It wasn't funny before, and it's not funny now. If Sinclair hears you, we're going to be fired."

"Screw Sinclair. All I care about is you. But right now, you're being a jerk, Mac Taylor. Besides, if you got fired, you'd have all day to mope."

"Shut up, Stella. You don't know what you're saying."

"No, you don't. I love you." She stands up and pulls her arm from him, "I've been waiting for you to see it, Mac, but you just don't want to. If you're not going to do anything, I'm not delaying for you any longer. There are plenty of other guys out there." Without a second look at him, Stella leaves the table, heading to the door.

"What was that all about?" Danny asks, the rest of the team standing a few feet from the table in shock.

All Mac can do is stare at her as she walks out.

"You cut me open and I

Keep bleeding

Keep, keep bleeding love"

A/N: This has two more chapters to it. The title kind of sucks but I couldn't think of anything beter. It'll come up in the next chapter or the following one. I plan to post the second chapter Monday and the third on Christmas Eve. Then you guys might have a break from me because I haven't written anything else. Although I have another idea I want to write that shouldn't be that difficult to do, but it'll only be one chapter. Then I might do something with this Ella girl and Mac... I wanted to do something where Mac is stalked by some woman who becomes jealous of Stella and tries to kill her... like on Bones. But I hadn't really put much thought into this woman. But since it's actually happening... I want tod know why they decided to name her Ella when they have a Stella on the show. Too confusing. This week was actually pretty good. And they fought... exciting. I don't really see how tricking this guy with fake coins is going to help when he has immunity but... I just hope she doesn't get in too much trouble. Well... my book is getting kind of exciting so I'm going to go back to reading. Please tell me what you think so far. BTW the song is "Bleeding Love" by Leona Lewis. Thanks.